[The Pilgrimage Of A Shopaholic]: Episode 1. A quest to get the orange marmalade

Maria Gabriella

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning on the feast day of St. Dominic of Guzman. I habitually opened a folder in the portable drive to review the photos taken from the very place. One, two, three, four and five… As I organize the photos in a single folder, I realise that the task is nothing different from the process of shopping online. Browse, click on the items, put them in a shopping basket and place an order. Yes, I am a shopaholic…

Let me place the mouse on one of the photos and it will exactly tell me when. How amazing, there is no need to remember anything. It says 22/10/2014, Wednesday. This is like a receipt from the shop. Now, all I need to do is to close my eyes and rewind the film. Now, I’m back in Seville seven years ago. I’m walking towards the Royal Monastery of St. Clement.

The gate is tightly secured with iron bars that look like grills… I hesitantly rang the buzzer. A Sister comes out.

“What brings you here, my little girl?”

“Oh well… I came to buy the orange marmalade and the biscuits. You make them here, don’t you? I have been told that they are yummy.”

“Oh dear, we haven’t got any left today. You must come back on Sunday… Are you a Catholic by any chance?”

“Oh yes, I am a Catholic. How did you know that?”

There was no way she would know that I’m a Catholic girl. Did I look like one? I wasn’t even wearing a cross…

“What is your name?”

“Uhm… I’m Magdalena, Sister.”

“How gracious! ¡Gracias a Dios!” (Thanks to God)

Her exclamation left me speechless… And I already committed a sin. I lied to her… Ah, being a Christian… gives me every opportunity to be a sinner.

“Then you must join our Sunday Mass. Then I’ll get you the marmalade and the biscuits for sure… If you want, you can come earlier to pray the rosary with us before the Mass.”

          The Rosary prayer… must be haunting me… Oh no, not again! The voices of my granny and mother are still ringing in my ears… Hail Mary, full of grace… zzzzz

“See you on Sunday, Maggie.”

It doesn’t seem to make any difference to be away from home. All I wanted was the marmalade and the biscuits. Just like home, where things were given when I recite the rosary. A Rosary must be more valuable than the money… So annoying!

As I walked towards the town center, I instantly figured out how to relieve my frustration. The blue ice cream… Yes, that’s it.

Buenos dias, can I have a scoop of bubblegum, please?”

“You speak very good Spanish. Only one scoop for you?”

“Yes, that would be enough for me. Thank you.”

God, this. is. Heaven. As I carefully licked my creamy blue ice cream, I tried to visualise this coming Sunday. Oh well, I’ll go this Sunday for sure… If that’s the only way to get the sweets from the sisters… no pain, no gain! I just sit there for an hour and stand up from time to time. Hopefully, my sleep won’t reach the REM stage. There is no need to embarrass myself in front of these Spanish strangers… Ah, the days when the sisters would sit next to me were the worst Sundays… Other than that, it should be fine. Life in a cloistered monastery must be hard. I can imagine… but I don’t need to imagine what it’s like… do I? It gives me a headache… The shops are calling me. I started whispering: “Dear God, please keep my sizes in store… Amen. Sorry, I can’t pray any longer at this time. I must hurry before my size runs out! No, that sounds disastrous, stay positive and let’s not lose HOPE, Maggie! Run!!!”

My feet started moving at the speed of light.